Taking a day tour from Lisbon is the perfect way to discover more about the history of Portugal, as well as enjoy the cities and scenery that you will find outside of the city. Booking a day tour with Lisbon Riders gave us just what we were looking for…so let’s get going…
We left the city bright and early and headed for our first stop…Fatima. I wrote about this city in a separate blog that you can find by clicking on this link. It was definitely an interesting place to stop, and our guide gave us lots of information about the history and what to find here. Fatima is an important religious site, and one I would say is definitely worth a visit!
After Fatima we headed to see the Batalha Monastery. This monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to be Portugal’s greatest example of Gothic architecture. It was built between 1386 and 1517, taking over a century to complete, and commemorates the victory of the Portuguese army over the Spaniards in 1385 at a battlefield nearby.
Before you enter the monastery you will find, in the large square to the side of the monastery, a statue of a general on a horse. This statue is of Nuno Alvares Pereira, the general that defeated the Spanish army and ensured Portuguese independence. Pereira would later become a Carmelite friar and spend his later years in the Carmo Convent in Lisbon.
The monastery has defined Gothic elements such as the pointed arches and flying buttresses. However, there is also the Manueline-style architecture, which includes nautical themed elements like twisted ropes…botanical elements like oak leaves and roses…ocean elements such as shells…and intricate details throughout.
The Batalha Monastery was never finished and you can see today the chapels, open to the sky, that were meant to be completed. The workers, and the money, meant to finish this monastery were redirected to the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon.
I enjoyed our short visit to the monastery and would have definitely enjoyed a longer time here to explore more of the monastery including the cloisters and chapel areas. If you do plan a visit here then perhaps give yourself a couple of hours to meander around.
Next up on the tour was Nazare, a city by the Atlantic Ocean that is known for it’s massive waves which are revered by surfers from all over the world. We stopped at a viewpoint where we could see the city, as well as the shoreline where the enormous waves hit the beach.
The biggest wave ever surfed was here at Nazare in November 2018. A surfer from Brazil set the world record by riding a wave over 80 feet tall. It’s hard to imagine! You can find pictures on the internet if you want to see for yourself.
Nazare makes a nice coastal seaside option to stay in if going to the Algarve is just too far with the amount of time you have for your Portugal trip. There is a market to wander through and the beach area to enjoy, with a long sidewalk to stroll along. It also makes a great base to tour the cities mentioned here.
Our last stop before heading back to Lisbon was Obidos. Obidos, which name means “walled city” is a delightful picture postcard kind of city. Founded around 300 B.C. by the Celts this city has also seen itself ruled by Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, before the first king of Portugal claimed the city in 1148.
This city, another UNESCO site, has a well preserved castle, and walls which you can walk around for some spectacular views of both the city inside and the countryside surrounding it.
Today Obidos is also known for ginja…a cherry liqueur that is produced from the sour cherries that grow in this region. The liqueur is quite strong and so it is usually served in a chocolate cup with a sour cherry inside. Who were we to say no to that?! It was very tasty, with the chocolate helping to sweeten any bitterness from the liqueur.
Obidos is not very big and the city itself can be enjoyed in an hour or two. It is known as one of Portugal’s prettier towns and so is also becoming busier. Try and visit in the morning, or stay here for a night and enjoy the town with the small number of local people that live here.
It was time to head back to Lisbon. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour which was a great way to visit a variety of sites and cities…as well as learn more about the history of this beautiful country.